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IOC won’t discuss Olympic contingency plans despite coronavirus concerns

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) remains defiant about whether this summer’s Tokyo Olympics could be cancelled, delayed or held without spectators because of the novel coronavirus.

This is despite growing concern and increasingly restrictive measures being imposed around the world meant to either prevent or slow down the spread of the disease.

In a statement released Thursday, the IOC said it expects the Games to begin as scheduled.

“We remain absolutely in line with our Japanese hosts in our commitment to delivering safe Olympic Games in July,” the statement said.

At present, there are roughly 100 million people in China and Italy on lockdown because of the novel coronavirus outbreak. Other countries, such as Argentina, have imposed mandatory quarantines for travellers, while the United States announced Wednesday that it is restricting travel for non-U.S. citizens and permanent residents coming from Europe for 30 days beginning on Friday at midnight.

A growing number of Olympic qualifying events around the world have also been cancelled due to the novel coronavirus and the disease caused by it, COVID-19. This has affected sports such as boxing, judo, three-on-three basketball and athletics.

Still, the IOC, including its president Thomas Bach, have resisted the idea that the Olympics could be affected by the novel coronavirus. The IOC has also refused to confirm whether it has a contingency plan for hosting the Games amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“We are not speculating on any kind of future developments,” the IOC told Global News when asked if it has a contingency plan.

The IOC also declined to answer questions about whether it is considering hosting the Games without spectators — a decision a number of sports organizations, including in Japan, have made since the outbreak began — nor would it say if it plans to implement additional health and safety measures to protect athletes, officials and spectators.

The comments from the IOC to Global News mirror those made by Bach earlier this month at a press conference where he declined to provide specific details on how the IOC is preparing for the Olympics in light of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Bach and the IOC have, however, said the health and safety of athletes is a top priority. The IOC has also established a task force to address the novel coronavirus and is working with the World Health Organization and local organizers in Tokyo, including the government of Japan, to address issues around COVID-19 as they arise.

In Canada, athletes are continuing to prepare for the Olympics based on the assumption they will proceed as scheduled.

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